Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Lib Dems- you should be ashamed

Here is a letter from me to the Membership Secretary of the Lib Dems

Dear Mr Seeker,

last year I was proud to be a member of the Liberal Democrats. This year I am appalled and ashamed. And angry.You have let the country down.

You have let X (I have removed details to protect identity here) down. They are not fat cat bankers. They have worked hard all of their life. Now their benefits have been cut
and I am not sure how they are going to keep living in the house which they have struggled to buy for many years. They are not fat cat bankers. They don't get a bonus each
year for failing to do their job. They simply struggle to make ends meet. I wonder how they will manage now?

Your party should be hanging its head in shame. I encouraged people to vote for the Lib Dems- I'm certainly hanging my head in shame.

I shall be cancelling my membership.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Hurrah. A non-diagnosis

'So, doctor,if you were to sum up the last hour for me, to give me a one-line diagnosis that I could give my husband, what would you say the diagnosis is?'
At this point in time I have been awake for more than 24 hours, I've had a one-hour EEG and we have been shooting a lot of shit, so to speak. I need something my brain can get around....

'Well....I have no idea....'

Ok...that sounds like it was a bit of a waste of my life, so maybe I should really start at, well, if not the beginning, somewhere a tad closer to it.

As you will know, I had an 'incident' in the US last month. MRI scan and consultation in the US was followed by a visit to my migraine doctor. He was worried about epilepsy due to certain features of the 'incident', hence my appearance at the neurologist this morning.

The upshot is: I had a seizure but I don't have epilepsy. The incident that I had was very odd in that it had lots of different features of lots of different things, but no overall 'thing' won out. As the doctor said, and I am sure fellow sufferers will agree, migraine brains are odd. They behave differently from other brains. It is possible that I started out with a period of hypo-perfusion in the brain due to low blood pressure, it morphed into a seizure and ended up as a migraine.

Seizures in the brain can happen when the seizure-threshold is reached.In a non-epileptic brain This is usually due to a combination of things: lack of sleep; illness; alcohol; stress; fever; antibiotics. When the seizure happened I was already exhausted- we'd had an amazing, but utterly exhausting, week in Costa Rica. I was already on my knees due to 3 months very bad sleep. I arrived in the US with the mother and father of all sinus infections. At the time of the seizure I was on my third lot of antibiotics. I had drunk a little more than usual in Costa Rica but at the time of the seizure hadn't had anything alcoholic to drink for more than a week due to the particular antibiotic, but when you look at all the other factors it doesn't seem implausible that the threshold was breached.

In addition, the EEG showed some 'peculiarities' which are normally associated with elderly men (WTF???). It isn't unheard of in women or younger men, but if the doctor hadn't got my details he would have assumed the EEG was an elderly man's. Oh well.

. So, plan of attack. Step 1: Do everything I can to lower my risk factors. If I have a fever, take paracetamol or ibuprofen, If I am ill, sleep a lot (no need to tell me twice). Also, continue to work on sorting sleep issue (perhaps move onto Seroquel instead of melatonin). I can continue to drink in moderation. Step two: medication. Can you guess which anti-seizure medication he recommended? Yep, you got it. Topomax. I told him that I regarded Topomax as the work of the Devil and suggested he tried other options. Said options were not to make me: (more) stupid than the migraines were already making me; fat(er) than I am now; ugly. I then gave him the list of medications that I had downloaded from UK epilepsy charity and he went through them all, disregarding them either because they caused one of the above or they would not work in my case. That left carbamazapine.

I will be starting on a very low dose and titrating up to a low dose. There are some side effects but these are generally associated with high doses, which I won't need. Unlike some of the other medications, these side-effects resolve if the dose is reduced or the medication is stopped. I need to go back for another EEG in February when I will be on the full dose. He will also check the blood level of the drug and do a liver-function test. I am sincerely hoping that there won't be any issues there.

Regarding my safety and that of others', I am still not allowed to drive. In my situation if I am seizure-free for two months I can drive again. I am not allowed to go swimming. Very high risk of drowning....

To be honest, it is better than I hoped for. I was worried that even though it would (hopefully) not be epilepsy, that I would be left in a limbo, not knowing what had caused it, no treatment, just waiting for another seizure to happen along. As it is, although the doctor cannot but a 'label' on it, everything he says makes sense.

I can breathe a bit more easily again.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

No, I don't have a mustard seed problem...

Sure looks like it, though. But do not worry, I have not yet descended into madness. I decided to make a little culinary gift for two of my foodie friends. Most of what you see here was converted into honey mustard. To that I have added some oatcake type biscuits for cheese.

Don't let this limpid photo put you off. These biscuits are seriously delicious. They are made from wholewheat flour and porridge oats and flavoured with salt, dried mustard powder and black pepper. Not only are they going to be great with cheese, I think I have stumbled upon the perfect Digestive Biscuit recipe. If you are an ex-pat Brit, you will know what an amazing discovery this is. SOmetime this week I am going to knock up a batch without the mustard and pepper, dip them in melted chocolate and then sit down with a cup of tea and a good book. And eat the lot.

Monday, 13 December 2010

OK. I admit it...

....I am completely dense....

I was on the bus home today when I realised I was missing something. An important something....a cashmere/wool neckwarmer which I had knitted for myself last winter. It was only one ball of yarn, probably about £10.00 worth. But I was fond of it. I knew where I had seen it last, sitting on the table at Globus while I ate my dinner. When I got home I called them up. No, they hadn't seen it but if I went to their Päckli service, I might find it there. My sorrow at losing it was slightly tempered by the warm glow that only speaking real German, and understanding the response, can bring.

I've just brought my hand up to my neck....guess what it found.....

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Her maiden voyage

Cherry came home with me yesterday. Isn't she gorgeous? The Kenwood Chef that had first belonged to my mum had been making some strange noises. Very strange noises. I decided that a full-blown bang-sizzle-flash-pop was more than my nerves could stand. So, Kenwood is sadly retired and will be recycled at some point in near future.

The first thing I made was these cookies:

Bear with me, they do look a bit ugly. Too much food colouring and applied with a bit of a slap-dash hand. But they taste great.

And you know what her best feature is? That plastic guard around the top. Now I don't have to remember to drape a teatowel over the mixer and bowl to stop the flour going everywhere. Result!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Recipe suggestion

Much as it saddens me to write this, the Kenwood Chef that was passed down to me by my mum, is no more. Well....it is...it hasn't been recycled yet, but it has been making lots of very.bad.noises. So come the New Year I will trudge with it into the local recycling centre so it can be eternally present in some other form...

But in the meantime I am the very happy owner of an early christmas present- a fire-engine red Kitchenaid stand mixer. Yippee!! So, my question is....what special recipe would you recommend for her maiden voyage? Oh, and she also needs a name' Any suggestions?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Decorating my front door for the seasons makes me feel Swiss-ish. It isn't just winter decorations, spring/easter ones are popular, too. I bought this after a failed attempt to have coffee with some ex-pats this morning. You know that un-loved feeling you get when you turn up for something and no-one else does? Well, I didn't feel like that, since I haven't been for months, but I was a bit naffed off that I yanked myself out of bed at 7.45 this morning.

After a couple of cups of coffee I headed off to the Apotheke (pharmacy). They have a good system here- my doctor can write a repeat prescription which is good for a set period of time, and I just go back to the pharmacy to pick it up, no need to contact the doctor's surgery first. Once again, my German was trotted out. I bet the guy though 'Oh, not again!' when, in response to his 'Do you speak English?', I replied that I must try German first. There then followed a long and complicated discussion, in which I came to appreciate just how much of what we say is actually padding. Very long story short...after delving into his computer he agreed with me that the doctor had actually prescribed '1 to 2 tablets' of Melatonin. His first thought was that this could not possibly be correct and he looked really worried when I told him I had been taking two tablets at night since last Friday. Melatonin is the latest in recent attempts to sort my sleeping out. It occurs naturally in the body and is what sends us to sleep. You should have seen Dr L's face when I told him that the doctor in the US had offered me Ambien or benzodiazepines!! 'Oh, please don't do that!' he blurted out. Not to worry, a tranquiliser addiction is not what I need right now, so I had turned it down. In the UK it is very hard to get benzodiazapines on prescription. They are very useful in certain circumstances but their use is carefully monitored. So far the Melatonin seems to be helping.

We are supposed to be heading back to the UK on Friday to do our christmas shopping. Not sure if that'll be happening, given the weather in the UK at the moment. In the meantime, the snow looks very pretty from the comfort of my living room....I'm off to curl up on the sofa and read. Tchüüs.